The Insider is a political thriller fashioned out of an article from Vanity Fair, titled "The Man Who Knew Too Much". The movie could be called "The Man Who Said Too Much". It's less interested in what research scientist Jeffrey Wigand had to say about the tobacco firm he worked for, than the attempts to stop him saying it on 60 Minutes (the movie's more about journalism than the tobacco industry).Director Michael Mann (Heat) uses the three hour running time to give his story a thorough grounding. We're already accustomed to fired-up 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) before Wigand meets him. Russell Crowe gives a remarkable inside-out performance as Wigand; he's presented as an ordinary man trying to do the best for himself in a difficult situation. That makes him easy to relate to, and his dilemmas real, because you're seeing someone who's recognisably human up there on screen (not an actor's impersonation). Crowe's intensity makes the performance linger, and when the focus shifts to Bergman and his efforts to get his Wigand interview on air, it's less involving (who can relate to a TV producer's dilemmas?).
Mann and Eric Roth have written an intelligent script (with occasional, welcome humour), and Mann's gone to great lengths to alleviate the potential boredom of a three hour film of meetings and mobile 'phone conversations. He's upped the sound by three decibels, and won't hold the cameras still (which becomes wearying). Cinematographer Dante Spinotti and production designer Brian Morris present a wholly believable-looking corporate America. And there are some terrific supporting performers (Diane Venora matches Crowe's intensity as Wigand's wife, Christopher Plummer as 60 Minutes anchor, Mike Wallace).Against all expectations, and in spite of the dry subject matter, I was moved at the end of The Insider. It's attributable to Crowe's consummate work in making Wigand's life real to me.